Banks to help struggling clients through Covid-19 crisis; banks "part of solution"

Banks in the Netherlands are looking for ways to help their customers through the coronavirus crisis. ABN Amro, ING, Rabobank, and Triodos together decided to give smaller companies with financing up to 2.5 million euros deferral of payment, if they need it and are financially healthy at their core. Payments can be deferred for up to six months, the Dutch association of banks NVB announced on Thursday.

Dutch banks are in a good enough position that they can accommodate customers during the coronavirus, even if this crisis continues for three to six months, ABN Amro CEO Kees van Dijkhuizen said to NOS.  "Last time during the crisis, we as banks were part of the problem. At the moment, we are emphatically part of the solution," Van Dijkhuizen said. "We are currently very capitalized, so we can help customers with that."

The banks also want to help customers who are struggling to pay their mortgage due to the virus. There is no joint measure for these customers, but they can contact their bank to help them look for a "suitable solution", NVB said. 

The ABN Amro CEO is also pleased with the new plan the European Central Bank announced to counter the economic consequences of the coronavirus. The ECB is pumping 1 billion euros into the economy, in order to lower interest rates on bonds and make it cheaper to raise capital to deal with economic problems.

This is a good plan, even if it has long-term consequences for the economy, Van Dijkhuizen said. "You must first ensure that the fire is extinguished," he said. "Keeping companies afloat and helping people who are in trouble, that is paramount. Then we have to clean this up again."

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